In the following as previously, the italic-blue text has been copied from our "official" itinerary. Our comments are in black. I've added some photos that I thought are representative of the more interesting locations we visited and to keep the reader's interest for at least a little while ... hopefully ... maybe.
"Today you will have a half-day private tour of the city of Arequipa that lies at the foot of the beautiful "Misti" volcano.
We stayed at the beautiful Pakaritampu Hotel located in the Sacred Valley in Cusco.
Judy is looking out the window of our suite.
This is one view from our hotel window. The Ollantaytambo Inca ruins we explored can be seen on the mountain side. I say 'we', but actually Judy did most of the climbing at this site as I was having some pretty distressing medical problems (heart palpitations & shortness of breath). More on this later - it was all fixed up in Cusco.
"The highlight of the tour is a visit to the Santa Catalina convent. This convent, closed to the public for almost 400 years until 1970, is still home to a few cloistered nuns. The tour provides an insight to the isolated past live of the nuns, mostly 2nd daughters of the Spanish nobility, led in this attractive setting with its quaint narrow streets and courtyards."
The fortunate first born daughters were married-off, and lived a life of wealth and ease.
I think its obvious that these nuns led a very sparse existence. Evidently they were required to pray for 7 hours a day. Then came cooking and washing. I wonder which chore was the most onerous?
At right are the nuns' sinks. To fill one, you put your hand down to stop the water flow down the trough thus forcing it into your bowl through a convenient pipe. Quaint, but effective and cold!
"Early in the morning you will have a private ride to Colca Canyon. You will cross the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, where you will have the opportunity to see herds of llamas and alpacas grazing on the Cotahuasi plains. After a 4 hours ride you will reach the beginning of the Colca Canyon with its green valleys and Andean terraces. You will stop at the picturesque town of Sibayo for a box lunch and visit to a vicuña reserve. The journey will end at the town of Chivay, you might have the opportunity to enjoy the hot springs."
On our way to the Colca Canyon, we stopped at several places offering incredible vistas. Here I am at one stop with 'kids of all kinds!' I'm holding a baby alpaca. Directly behind me is a vertical drop guaranteed to intimidate the most fearless mountain climber. I quickly came to appreciate that fences are not a Peruvian priority!
At right, the white church at Yanque.
And, yes, that is a real eagle on my head! According to the trainer, it was supposed to fly from its perch and land on my shoulder. Regardless, even with its large talons, it didn't dig them into my very inviting scalp. A magnificent bird!
The trainer put his hat on Judy, and then it was her turn to act as a pedestal.
And then off to the Colca Lodge; a gem in the wilds of Peru! It was a long ride, but it sure was worth it!
At right is the lodge main building with dining and bar facilities.
At left is our suite (the complete upstairs of the red building). I think we got the Bridal Suite - a first after 44 years of marriage!
We were high in the Andes so that while the temperature was a very comfortable 20-24 C in the daytime, it plunged to freezing at night. Therefore, a dip in one of the lodge's three natural hot springs (each a different temperature) at the end of the day was wonderful!
Look Mom! A Walrus!!!
We did get a surprise on returning to our suite after dinner - hot water bottles in our beds to take the chill off! How about that for service!
But enough for this page. Click on the Peruvian Flag below to continue to follow our adventures in the Colca Valley and Lake Titicaca. Of special interest are the "Flights of the Condors" in the Colca Valley, and on Lake Titicaca, the floating reed Uros Islands, and Amantani Island. We arranged to visit an elementary school on Amantani Island to give the children some small gifts and this turned out to be the most incredibly emotional and satisfying event on our trip!!!